Art of ancient arachnids has been discovered for the first time on rock panels in Egypt's Kharga Oasis, west of Luxor, LiveScience reported Monday.
Archaeologists think it is the only known depiction of spider art in the Old World, making it a significant find and "very unusual," says Salima Ikram, of the American University in Cairo.
The two-piece panel is on the western wall of a sandstone valley, and the art faces east. Its date is uncertain, although Ikram thinks it dates to 4000 B.C.
The drawings consist of spiders, something that looks like a web, and other markings that don't look much like anything, which Ikram said could be trapped insects.
Ancient Egyptian interest in the creatures is a little bit of a mystery, but may have come from the fact that a certain species of spider native to the desert hung for long periods of time in their webs in the hot sun, the journal Archaeology said.
The presence of spider orbs bathed in sunlight may have had some religious meaning to the ancient Egyptians, Ikram said.
"This would combine the force of the sun and the ability of this solar creature to survive its heat successfully, and thus be worthy of reverence or totemic allegiance," she said.
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